Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Jobs Dara Calleary has welcomed the latest Live Register figures, but has warned that the drop in the numbers signing on has not resulted in a corresponding increase in quality sustainable employment.
“While any decrease in the numbers signing on is welcome, it is important to note that there has not been a corresponding increase in the numbers who are now in full-time, paid employment,” said Deputy Calleary.
“Much of the decrease can be accounted for by jobseekers leaving the Live Register to engage in education or training or to leave the country altogether. There are now a record 85,119 people on labour activation schemes – a 2% increase year on year. These people remain unemployed, but they are not reflected in the Live Register figures. We have very little information as to the effectiveness of these schemes and whether or not jobseekers get relevant paid work as a result.
“Another large bulk of the decrease can be accounted for by the numbers whose job seekers benefit has expired. The subsequent entitlement of job seekers benefit is means-tested, so many unemployed people will no longer qualify depending on their overall household income. They are completely ignored by all official figures.
“It is crucial that the Government does not use these latest Live Register figures to sit back and claim that we no longer have a jobs crisis. This is simply not true. Over 200 people a day are still emigrating. We have serious regional imbalances in employment rates, reflecting the fact we are experiencing a two-tiered recovery bin this country. We also have a massive problem in relation to long-term unemployment. There are now 180,000 people are out of work for over 12 months. This represents a huge social and economic challenge which will not be solved by measures such as the Government’s cut to jobseekers allowance for the under 25s.
“We have become accustomed to the Government’s self-praise over addressing the jobs crisis. Now is not the time for more spin and self-congratulatory PR statements. I am calling on the Jobs Minister Richard Bruton to look behind these figures and recognise that we still have a very real jobs crisis in this country, affecting graduates, young job-seekers, and communities outside Dublin in particular. The Government has promised that it will spend half of the proceeds from the sale of Bord Gais on supporting jobs investment. We need to know the details of this and how it will benefit the long-term unemployed and all regions across the country.”